Symantec: Data Archiving Protection on a Single Software Platform

Vijay Mhaskar, VP, Information Management Group, Symantec talks about how 3G will greatly add to the growth of data generated by telecom operators and how data archiving thus helps in creating an information centric approach to managing critical data.



Please explain the concept of data archiving in the telecom industry?

In the face of increasing security concerns, the Home Ministry has issued a directive, asking mobile operators to store all call records and text messages for a minimum period of one year, instead of six months. Storing of call records and text messages will require operators to invest in infrastructure facilities and data centers. At present, lawful interception is only done for calls and text messages from specific numbers on the instructions of security agencies.



Data is growing exponentially in this sector due to the growing telecom subscriber base, but most of it is in an unstructured format. However, this data can be managed effectively managed through archiving.



What does Symantec offer for data archiving?

Symantec’s Information Strategy focuses on ensuring that enterprises are able to protect their entire infrastructure by using one software platform. Secondly, they can also delete confidently, which means that customers are able to think more strategically and delete unnecessary information. This ensures that customers are also protected from a recovery and litigation perspective.



Some of Symantec’s backup and archiving products include NetBackup, Backup Exec and Enterprise Vault product lines. Enterprise Vault is an archiving platform that stores, manages, and enables the discovery of corporate data from email systems, file server environments, instant messaging platforms, and collaboration and content management systems.



What will be the benefits accruing to operators, subscribers, and the telecom industry as a result of data archiving?

Some of the benefits include reducing data footprint with a centralized, integrated data archiving solution for unstructured information from multiple sources such as email, file systems, and Microsoft SharePoint, improving performance and scalability, reducing server count, and achieving greener IT, responding quickly to discovery requests and internal investigations, and increasing end-user productivity with transparent access to archived files.



How will data archiving help in the 3G and BWA era? 

FICCI predicts that the 3G subscriber base is expected to hit 90 mn by 2013, accounting for 12% of the overall wireless user base. The growth in 3G adoption is expected to directly contribute towards the growth of data being generated across the telecom operators. This is due to the fact that 3G will lead to an increase in demand for entertainment (video streaming) and other hosted applications, all of which will create a massive storage crunch for operators.



Archiving thus enables organizations to automate movement and retention of unstructured information to improve performance, scale, and manageability of applications while reducing risk and costs associated with providing transparent end-user access and efficient e-discovery and optimizing storage.



What are the current challenges faced by operators in terms of data tsunami vs storing of subscriber records? 

In the telecom sector, data is generated whenever a call is made, or an SMS is sent. Data also keeps piling up in the form of emails, documents, etc. Given the exponential growth expected in this sector, it is crucial for telecom operators to deploy solutions to effectively manage this data growth. Most of this data is in the unstructured format.



The management of unstructured data is recognized as one of the major unsolved problems. One of the biggest issues with managing this unstructured data is that it is typically scattered on filers without divisional or owner organization, so pulling detailed billing or reporting for divisions is difficult. Also, there are issues with identifying old or irrelevant data, allocating storage to the appropriate business unit or department, and understanding data usage and consumption trends.



Another area of concern is the protection of all this customer data as one needs to keep it both for compliance and audit needs as well as for possible litigations. To ensure that it’s all backed up and archived intelligently to ensure timely and safe recovery is very integral in view of such regulations. Symantec’s backup and archival solutions ensure that the information within enterprises is protected and archived for future reference.



Has there been any process initiated toward data archiving in India so far?  

Storing text messages will require operators to invest in data centers, and companies fear that the government may soon even demand storing voice calls. At present, lawful interception is only done for calls and text messages from specific numbers on the instructions of security agencies. However, Intelligence agencies are of the view that archiving all SMSs should be done for a minimum period of 12 months. This leads to a need for an effective and easily recoverable information strategy involving complete digitization of records.



They also want the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to retain their customers’ online data for a minimum period of 12 months. These include the email addresses from where the online communication is sent, the receiving ID, the subject of the mail, attachment name and type, the other recipients who are marked on the same mail and similar details of the replies to the online communication.



These are the first steps towards creating an information centric approach to managing critical data as well as create the right IT infrastructure to ensure business continuity in the midst of disasters. We do see that with the rampant digitization across the various government bodies, there will be a need for a huge data repository with backup and archiving forming the center of all processes.



By Beryl M

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